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Teen Irate After Mom Tries To Force Him To Include Stepfamily In Memory Book From Late Dad

person going through old photos
Imagesbybarbara/Getty Images

Sometimes death comes without warning.

But sometimes people are given time to prepare for their death—most often from a terminal illness or degenerative disease.

A son whose father prepared his children fof his death now finds himself in conflict with his mother and stepfather over his dad’s dying gift.

So he turned to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for feedback.

Vivid-Western-8825 asked:

“AITA for saying my memory book is not some family project?”

The original poster (OP) explained:

“I (17, male) lost my dad 10 years ago. When he got sick he started a memory book with me so that I could hold onto the memories.”

“He did one for my sister too, but she wasn’t as into it and was more into videos he made of himself. But for me? The memory book was everything and after he died I continued adding to it.”

“Any memory I had of my dad or our family I would add. Sometimes something came back when I found a random photo or something. Then I included memories with my sister after dad.”

“Sometimes I included some memories of mom, but after dad died my relationship with her was harder. She thought we needed another dad and because we said we didn’t want another dad, she was angry with us a lot.”

“She tried to rush a couple of relationships, but they failed when the guy realized he was not getting an insta happy family.”

“5 years ago my mom met her husband John and they merged families. John was a single dad of 3 kids—technically he has 4 kids but one is not in his life.”

“John’s three kids do not have an involved mom, so my mom has stepped up to be their mom and they call her mom. John has tried to step up to be mine and my sister’s dad. But we see him as just a stepdad.”

“John’s kids are just stepsiblings and I don’t love John and his kids. I don’t hate or dislike them. But I wouldn’t ever include them in my memory book, for example.”

“And that’s what this is about.”

“My stepsiblings were in my room when I was in school a couple of weeks ago and they found the memory book. They wanted to know why I had it and why I didn’t have photos of their dad or them.”

“My mom heard them ask those questions and she demanded to look through it. While mom was going through it my stepsiblings said they wanted to add their own stuff and I said no, it’s not for them.”

“Mom told me not to say that kind of thing to them and then she told me it should be something that shares memories of our whole family. I told her it was my personal thing.

“She took it away for a few days and my sister stole it back and then I asked my grandpa to hold onto it for me. That’s where it’s staying because I know it would be stolen and altered in a way I don’t want it to be.”

“Mom and John sat me down and said it’s not acceptable that I have a memory book that’s clearly about my family when I don’t include my whole existing family. They said my stepsiblings were very upset that I wouldn’t add them or let them take part.”

“They then said it should be a family thing and mom insisted I hand it back over and we all work on it together. I told them it’s not a family project.”

“It’s mine. It’s for me and my way of documenting memories of the people I love and they will not take it away from me.”

“John was pissed and said ‘oh so it’s like that, so you don’t love us?’. Mom told me she and John had the right to say what was or wasn’t a family project and once it’s in their home, that’s their decision.”

“She also told me I was disrespectful for talking back. They also told me it was time to man up.”


The OP summed up their issue.

“I said my memory book is not a family project when my mom and stepdad attempted to make me open it up for everyone to take part in.”

“This was after I didn’t add my stepsiblings or stepdad even though my stepsiblings were hurt.”

“I don’t know if I did a good job of communicating with mom here, so I might be a d*ck for that.”

Redditors weighed in by declaring:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

Redditors unanimously declared the OP was not the a**hole (NTA).

“NTA. If they want a faaaaaamily memory book, they are free to make one. Your memories with your dad have zero to do with any of them.”

“I’m glad your grandpa is able to keep it safe for you.”

“Tell your mom’s husband to keep his kids out of your room. They have no business pawing through your stuff.” ~ TarzanKitty

“NTA—this was something special between you and your dad. They can’t just take it over because of their wants.”

“They can make their own memory book if they want, but keep your memory book to yourself. I would keep it at grandpa’s cuz I could see them steal it and ruining it with their own stuff.” ~ glamgal50

“NTA. Mom could have started a family memory book with everyone and made it clear OP’s was for the memory of his DEAD father.”

“She could have asked OP to add copies of some of the memories from OP’s book. This is just selfish AH’s (mom, steps) creating problems.” ~ pinkduckling

“NTA. Your mom is trying so hard to shove this happy family narrative down your throat that she’s ensuring it will never happen.”

“I’d say to your mom, ‘if you want to start a memory book with all of us, I’d be happy to help you do that. Let me know if you want to go to the craft store with me, or you can give me the money, and I can go get it.”

“Because having a ‘memory book’ with your mom, stepdad, etc… takes nothing away from your special one with your dad and might help you protect your book against her.”

“If she gets all involved with a new one, she might forget about it. I realize it’s not something you’d otherwise want to do, but at this point, it’s a matter of surviving with your book intact and minimal harassment until you can get away from them.”

“No one can force you to love your steps or anyone else. As long as you treat them with courtesy, that’s all that should be expected.” ~ Aylauria

“So glad you were smart and got that memory book to a safe place. Of course you are NTA. I’m sorry you lost your dad, and I’m sorry your mom Is obviously twisted.”

“Your step siblings sound like they get whatever they want. Your memories of your dad are precious and your memories and your memory book should be treated with respect.”

“Your mom and stepfamily have betrayed you. You will be 18 soon with your whole life ahead of you.”

“Apply for scholarships and loans for college—if you don’t have other plans. Get away from your mom.” ~ carrie626

“NTA. You and your sister are entitled to both your feelings and anything you have put aside as memories of your father.”

There is a solution that might get you out of this situation. Start a book of the combined family, maybe with pictures of their wedding.”

“Include a picture of each kid and then present it to them and explain to your step-siblings that this is a book to build on. You do not have to contribute anything beyond one picture of yourself to give the illusion that you are cooperating.”

“Do not bring your book back home. Leave it at your grandfather’s house.” ~ Unlikely_Savings_408

“I honestly think they could use some family therapy to help them realize it’s okay that you don’t love your stepdad and stepsiblings. You haven’t known them for that long, and your mom trying to replace your dad has probably made it even harder to appreciate them.”

“It sounds like your mom is trying to force you to be a ‘normal’ family rather than accept that you will never forget your dad.”

“Depending on how old your stepsiblings are, I think this may need to be talked about more carefully with them. Because if they can’t remember anything before you were a family they’re likely to actually love you almost as if you had always been family.”

“It may be hard for them to understand how your relationship is uneven in that way. So while you’re definitely NTA, I hope you can have empathy for how it may be hard for them to understand.” ~ gooser_name

“NTA, tell your Mom you’ll ‘man up’ and disappear from their lives once you turn 18.” ~ unpopularcryptonite

“NTA.I would be asking a lot of uncomfortable questions if I were OP.”

“‘So, if you force yourselves into the book of memories that I have of my father… that will make me love you?’.”

“‘If a book of memories is this important to you, why haven’t you started one?’.”

“‘Are there any other possessions of mine that you would like to help yourselves to?’.” ~ tricularia

A treasured memento from a deceased parent really shouldn’t be made community property with people who never knew him.

Written by Amelia Mavis Christnot

Amelia Christnot is an Oglala Lakota, Kanien'kehá:ka Haudenosaunee and Metís Navy brat who settled in the wilds of Northern Maine. A member of the Indigenous Journalists Association, she considers herself another proud Maineiac.